Search For Priest Turned Helium Balloon Pilot Suspended

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Brazil's air force Thursday suspended efforts of finding a Roman Catholic priest, 42-year-old Reverend Adelir Antonion de Carli, presumed missing off the coast of Santa Catarina, where pieces of the hundreds of helium party balloons that carried him aloft (Sunday April 20) were found. After an initial climb to 20,000 feet, Denise Gallas, treasurer of Carli's parish told The Associated Press, Carli settled in at roughly 8,200 feet for his planned trip from Parangua to Dourados -- a city 465 miles away. At the time of his last communication with the port authority Carli was already 30 miles off the coast and stated he would soon crash in the Atlantic. Eight hours later, according to The Associated Press, he was reported missing. The priest had launched wearing a helmet, a thermal suit and a parachute. He was armed with his skydiving experience, a GPS, a satellite phone and a "buoyant chair," the AP reported.

Gallas said Tuesday, "We are absolutely confident he will be found alive and well, floating somewhere in the ocean," adding "he knew what he was doing and was fully prepared for any kind of mishap." It was Carli's intent to break a record for 19 hours aloft in such a contraption and to raise money for a spiritual rest stop for Brazilian truckers. Carli's former paraglider instructor told the Telegraph.co.uk that he had instructed Carli but later asked him to "abandon the course" because in his estimation Carli had personality traits that were "not ideal for a paraglider."